Question Submitted: I realize we have all been given different gifts, but the gift of children (or not) is such a sensitive issue. I am blessed to have mine. How much of my joy in my children am I able to share with my barren friends without hurting them? I don’t feel I should necessarily hide my joy in my own children…but there is perhaps a line somewhere to consider.
The line is in God’s commandment to serve our neighbor. Here’s what it looks like:
I have a friend whose mother died of cancer several years ago. I know that every time I speak of my mother, go out in public with my mother, write something about my mother, or even post a status on Facebook about my mother, I am treading on sensitive ground. With my words and actions, I am calling to mind that which she has lost and possibly causing her to suffer. Because of this, I try to speak, write, and act in such a way that has her best in mind.
This does not mean I cease celebrating the gift of my mother. It just means that I know my mother is a precious gift I neither merit nor deserve, so I try not to boast of her in front of my neighbor. Instead, I thank God for my mother, try to honor her, and strive to live out my vocation as daughter in service to her.
Children are another gift from God, and they should be received with all thankfulness, joy, and celebration. Yet, God’s commandment still holds true: everything we say and do should be in service to our neighbor. So, my best advice would be to thank God for your children, delight in their accomplishments, and celebrate their milestones as they come and go, but do so in public with your neighbor’s best in mind.
(A quick note for my barren sisters: Children truly are a gift given from God, even when they are not given to us. It is a good thing when another baby is born into this world. I know it is hard not to covet the children of your neighbors, but I think you will find it easier to join in on the celebration of your neighbors’ children when you take an active role in their lives. Suddenly, their celebrations are your celebrations, their joys your joys. It can be hard to celebrate when you are always on the sidelines. Vocation makes all the difference. Just some food for thought…)